By Chris Parker
Miller volleyball is 108-24-7 over the past four seasons with two district titles. What is still missing is a trip to the final four. This could be the year Miller breaks through with five all-conference players returning from last season’s squad that finished 27-4-2 overall.
“Expectations are always high for our volleyball program,” Miller volleyball coach Tamra Landers said. “These girls have grit and determination. We are just going to play one point at a time. Hopefully reach or end goal by a deep run in post-season.”
Junior Alli Mitchell leads the returning players after she garnered Class 1 All-State honors last year. She accounted for 585 of Miller’s 608 total assists last year. Mitchell also led Miller in aces with 46.
“Alli has a true love for the game and she has played a tremendous amount of volleyball. She is a special player who provides a spark to our team, who delivers the ball exactly where our hitters need it,” Landers said.
Kaylee Helton (junior first-team all-conference), Claudia Hadlock (junior second-team all-conference), Ashten Kingsley (junior honorable mention all-conference) and Haylie Schnake (sophomore honorable mention all-conference) are Miller’s other four returning all-conference players. They were also Miller’s top four hitter last season with Helton leading the group at 203 total kills. Hadlock (134 kills), Schnake (130 kills) and Kingsley (125 kills) all also eclipsed the 100-kill mark.
“(Helton) has started to develop as a power hitter. She is able to hit from every position on the court. (Hadlock is) one of the smartest players I have coached. She is able to pick a defense apart from every spot on the front row,” Landers said. “Standing at 6’2”, (Kingsley) provides a defensive threat with her block that other teams will not be able to ignore. (Schnake’s) quickness and fast arm speed make her an offensive threat in every hitting position.”
Sophomores Addison Stockton (libero) and Emberlynn Kingsley (MB) also return. Stockton led Miller in digs last year with 237.
“(Stockton) has grown in the libero position after being a setter until last year,” Landers said. “She has a very high volleyball IQ which enables her to effectively switch positions and communicate with her teammates.”
Sophomore outside hitter Alyssan Hill will be a new face on the varsity level this year.
Miller opens the season on Aug. 29 at the Verona Invitational.